Technology has changed the way people view the world. People are now more connected than they have been ever before. With the technology, there has been a boom of social media in the IT industry. Most of the social media platforms were created to link people from across the world to each other. Due to the ease in connectivity, people have been able to express themselves to the world. It was initially considered as a platform for introverts and shy people to express their feelings. For instance; the founder of Facebook developed the website for “nerds” like him who were unable to talk to other people in direct contact. It is important to note, that social media has a different reach, impact, frequency, and usability as compared to traditional forms of media. Today, social media are not only a platform for people to acquaint themselves with others, but it has allowed many people to find jobs and many small businesses market themselves through this medium at negligible costs.
Social media have provided a platform for many individuals across the world who wants to be famous and create an impact. According to Saad Al Dossary, the term “social activist” is the buzz word in this era (Al-Dossary, 2014). People who have wanted to create an impact upon the horizon have launched themselves on the platform of social media and been able to capture the attention of millions of users. The perception in Saudi Arabia about the social media namely; youtube and other video sites are not very positive. People criticize the social media for giving hype to individuals who do not really have any talent to showcase. People active on the social media are more concerned with numbers rather than quality. The videos that are posted do not have any sense in them that would attract an intellectual individual; rather, it is a showcase of talent that did not get a platform. In Saudi Arabia, the most popular social media are undoubtedly Facebook. In 2013, mobile users of Facebook in Saudi Arabia increased by 150 percent. Moreover, LinkedIn witnessed an increase of 30 percent since January 2012 and Twitter even though in the growth phases and has broken records year after year (Social Clinic).
The use of social media has a cultural context, and it is important to understand these cultural differences. In the region of Saudi Arabia individual’s motivation, uses, attitude, intention, behavior, and the actual use are significantly impacted by the cultural context (Askool, 2013). The Saudi Arabia region majorly comprises of Muslims, but there is a large pool of foreigners who visit the country for tourism purposes. Through the social media, the country’s culture is exposed to the world around and for interested individuals it is a great source of learning. The conservative families of Saudi Arabia have girls who are not allowed to leave their home due to cultural limitations. Consequently, females who are bound within their homes have the social media platform to learn a great deal about the world beyond their own household and area of residence. Thus, we can suggest that the social media helps individuals to learn more about the outside world and gain an insight into differing cultures. Adding on, the concept of arranged marriages is strongly in-built in the Muslim world. The woman and man may also interact with each other through means of social media; hence, get to know about the other person. It is then suggested that the social media may not only be useful for commercial purposes, but keeping into consideration the cultural context it may also be useful for personal uses.
The idea of social media was Greek until recently or more specifically at the turn of the century. People did not even imagine they would be able to connect with others and interact creatively with a distance of hundred of miles in between. The idea of being in touch virtually has shaken the world and has changed the way people now view life. Not only individuals, but companies have also evolved with this concept of social media. Many small businesses can now market themselves at negligible costs which would not have been possible few years ago. For instance, new business ventures can launch themselves on Facebook and attain a reach of hundreds and thousands of people. Initially, businesses had to turn to traditional media which also meant high costs. Social circles were limited to the people they met at their work places. With the rise in social media, it is possible to develop new contacts that may be located in the opposite end of the world. Constant updates on the social media allow people to know what is happening in the lives of others at a moment’s notice; whereas, in the pre-social media era this was not possible immediately. The social media have also opened up employment avenues for many individuals. People have found the right employer by checking out their profiles on the social media. In other words, there has been a greater person-job fit as a result of the active role of social media.
Social media all over the world has experienced a boom. Consequently, Saudi Arabia is no exception. Over the years, Saudi Arabia has progressed in several arenas and the IT industry has experienced this progress as well. The citizens of the region have come to realize that without being active on the social media their competitiveness in the world would be greatly hampered. The liberal cities such as Jeddah within Saudi Arabia report a greater use of social media as compared to other cities. People are more interested in being connected through the social media as compared to the traditional medium because of the bias effect. People consider social media to be representative of the common man; whereas, the televisions, newspaper, and radio present only one-sided pictures (Business Insider).
Even though, many intellects regard the social media as exploiting the position of the government, but it has led to massive revolutions, for instance, in the case of Egypt. In Saudi Arabia, the social media have not gained the platform similar to those in other countries, but at the pace the development is happening Saudi Arabia is not far from reaching the epitome of social media. The constant developments in the social media industry make it difficult to measure its impact, but the country has made great progress as compared to earlier times. All forms of social media are a great way to interact and connect with the wider world; therefore, if Saudi Arabia is able to realize this they may benefit a great deal.
Askool, S. S. (2013). Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing Volume 140, 2013, pp 201-219 The Use of Social Media in Arab Countries: A Case of Saudi Arabia. springer Link, 140, 201-219.
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